Sunday, September 5, 2010

On the Charming of Crayfish

I have spared my public endless repetitions of my thoughts on the beauty of the local lakes and the pleasure of walking around them, because most of what can be said about it is already in the archives and, even though they may well be more interesting than my rantings on politics, education and associated matters, you can only say the same thing so many times before running out of words, and probably readers.

It should be possible to write a new post every time I go to see one or other part of that area, which is most days- after all, I go so often because every time I experience something new- but much of it is impossible to put into words that would make sense when read by someone else. I could baldly state what I have seen, I could try to explain why it was worth going there yet again, but it would hard to get someone else to understand it- not least because these things are so fleeting and ephemeral that even I can scarcely remember what is what that I felt, let alone put it into words. I could, of course, just make things up, but what would be the point of that?

Yesterday, however, I persuaded Mrs Hickory to come with me, since it’s not quite as hot as at the height of summer, and we saw a couple of things that are highly unusual (another reason she came with me is that a couple of weeks ago a group of deer trotted across the hills and down a valley a mere 50 yards ahead of me, and she was very jealous because she hasn’t seen any yet).

The first thing was an eagle owl. As we rode up a hill path between trees on the way to the lakes, it emerged from behind a tree 15 yards ahead of us, lazily spread its wings, rose into the air and flew away. These things are enormous, they can have eight foot wing spans, and this one must have been around six feet across, and to see one so close up is unusual and rather startling. If it took fright, or had had one of those days, it could pick you up and smash you against a rock. Fortunately, it was either an equable bird or it just didn’t think of it.

Later, at one of the more popular bathing spot we took a refreshing dip. We were alone when we arrived, except for a Russian waitress wiping down tables with studied concentration and, I suspect, considerable boredom. She needn’t have worried, as a group of thirsty cyclists soon appeared to chat her up and keep her busy, and other groups kept turning up in cars until by the time we left there were some thirty people trying to pluck up the courage to jump into the water, or just milling around. One of the millers was surviving the tedium engendered by said milling by hypnotising crayfish.

He assured me that, by holding them upside down and stroking their heads carefully and repeatedly, he could send them to sleep, and this he did to one he pulled from the water. He left it standing on its head, completely motionless for several minutes before it seemed to come back to life and wandered off towards the water. Definitely the oddest thing I have seen for some time.

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